Just as important as the medical care is to make sure you stay as healthy as possible in the first place. Hong Kong is generally a quite healthy place to live, but there are a few health issues that you should be aware of.
Air pollution: Although Hong Kong has controls on vehicle and power emissions, a lot of pollution blows in from the manufacturing hub of the Pearl River Delta in South China. Air pollution is a constant companion and something many expatriates complain about.
Water: Hong Kong’s drinking water is treated and made safe to drink from the tap, but boiling and filtering are sensible precautions. Most people drink bottled water.
Food: In some animal and food markets, hygiene can be poor. Be careful when buying meat and seafood. Some doctors recommend you do not eat local and other Asian seafood on a regular basis, as there are high levels of contamination from heavy metals. Fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed to remove pesticides and other contaminants. The Chinese normally peel their fruit and rarely eat raw vegetables.
Diseases: Malaria and rabies are not endemic in Hong Kong, but are present elsewhere in the region. There are cases of tuberculosis and chicken pox, so make sure you have the respective vaccinations. You should also get injections for tetanus and hepatitis A and B.
Dengue Fever: Hong Kong records some 40-50 cases of Dengue Fever each year. Minimize your potential exposure by using mosquito repellents. If you do get infected, Dengue Fever is not curable.
Avian flu: The Avian (bird) ’flu H5N1 virus is transmitted from infected live birds to humans. There have been documented outbreaks in Hong Kong and the Asia region since 1997.
SARS: SARS is a pneumonia-like disease which can lead to death. When Hong Kong was hit by SARS in 2003, many people started wearing masks on the street. Many expatriates, especially those with family, left the city. The threat of another SARS outbreak is being managed through public campaigns educating people to clean their homes, wash their hands after using the toilet, wear masks if they have colds and open windows to improve air circulation.
For more on healthcare, diseases and related issues in Hong Kong, visit our website on expatriate healthcare, ExpatHealth.org.